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School of Music students at ASU sweep up top awards in competition

March 29, 2002

WHAT: ASU music students win top awards in national piano competition
WHEN: Awards luncheon, noon, April 7
WHERE: Scottsdale Conference Resort
TICKETS: $65; call 480-661-8283

Three students in the Herberger College of Fine Arts School of Music at ASU have taken the top awards in the recent National Society of Arts and Letters (NSAL) competition in piano sponsored by the organization’s Greater Arizona Chapter.

The award winning students are all seniors in the School of Music: Stephen Cook, first place; Levi Hammer, second place; and Brian Holman, third place. In addition, the chapter is presenting its Medallion of Merit award to ASU professor of piano Robert Hamilton in recognition of his distinguished achievements in music. Coincidentally, Hamilton is the major professor for Cook, Hammer and Holman.

The awards will be presented to the students and Hamilton at the Greater Arizona Chapter’s 36th annual Career Awards luncheon on (Sunday) April 7 at noon at the Scottsdale Conference Resort. Tickets are $65 each; call 480-661-8283. The NSAL was founded in 1944 in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to encouraging and assisting talented young people in the arts. The Greater Arizona Chapter was established in 1966. Annual competitions are conducted in categories of art, dance, literature, music and drama by the 28 chapters throughout the U.S.

As first-place winner, Stephen Cook travels to Boca Raton, Fla., in May to compete with winners from 27 other NSAL chapters for the national first place award of $10,000. A native of Arizona, the 22 year old began studying piano at age seven. His early accomplishments include top places in the 1996 and 1997 Yamaha/Sherman Clay Young Artists Piano Competition where he was a two-time recipient of the Nancy Taylor Briscoe Memorial Scholarship, as well as a recipient of the National Society of Arts and Letters Scholarship. In 1998, as a freshman in the School of Music, Cook won the school’s concerto competition. His performance was featured on KBAQ radio in Phoenix. In 1999 and 2000, he attended the Piano Summer at New Paltz Festival-Institute where he was awarded third prize in the Jacob Flier International Piano Competition. In March of 2001, Stephen performed in New York City’s Steinway Hall. He was one of 35 admitted into the second Tbilisi International Piano Competition in the former U.S.S.R. He recently competed in Italy on the Rivera del Conero where he ranked fifth among 31 pianists. A recipient of the Regents Music Scholarship at ASU, Cook will graduate in May 2002 with a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance.

Levi Hammer will graduate in May 2002 with Bachelor of Music degrees in piano performance, and music theory and composition. He has participated in summer festivals in the Czech Republic and in Bayreuth and Munich, Germany. He is the 1998 winner of three competitions: Denver’s Jefferson Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition and ASU’s Concerto Competition and Klatzkin Contemporary Keyboard Music Competition.

Brian Holman will graduate in May 2002 with a Bachelor of Music in piano performance and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. He has performed at the Conservatory of Music in Kromeriz, Czech Republic. Holman has been a winner in a number of competitions, including the 2001 ASU Concerto Competition, the 1998 Tucson Women’s Club Competition and the 1997 Civic Orchestra of Tucson Yong Artists Competition.

Robert Hamilton has appeared with the orchestras of New York, Chicago, Washington, Milwaukee, and Uruguay. His many awards have included three performance grants from the Rockefeller Fund, six U.S. State Department grants, and top prizes at the Montevideo, Ganz, Casella, and Busoni International Competitions. He has performed concerts on four continents, including 21 extensive tours of Europe and seven tours of the Far East. Radio appearances include the BBC (London), ABC radio network, Voice of America, Radio Warsaw, DRS (Zurich) and National Public Radio. His commercial recordings have been on the Advance, Orion and Philips labels, and he has served on the juries of national and international competitions. Hamilton is profiled in the recent book, The Most Wanted Piano Teachers in the USA, as well as the International Who's Who in Music. His students have won many national and international prizes, and hold positions in the professional music field. He is also artistic director of the annual London Piano Festival in England,and is an international Steinway artist.

Media Contact:
Mary Brennan